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Cloud Migration

Cloud Journey: 6 Stages of Cloud Adoption

What is Cloud Journey?

A cloud journey (also known as a cloud migration) is the process of migrating business operations to a remote facility, managed by an external provider, and accessed through the internet. Although the move is usually from a legacy on-premises infrastructure to a cloud-based one, the journey can also be from one cloud provider to another.

Cloud migration entails moving data, recreating computing resources, such as bare-metal servers or virtual machines (VM), and transitioning entire applications to a cloud infrastructure. The journey can be complex, costly, and carries substantial risk. However, it delivers major advantages including long-term cost reduction, and improved resilience, agility, performance, and scalability of computing systems.

In this article, you will learn:

Stages of a Cloud Journey

A cloud journey is not just a technical change. It involves changes to the entire IT framework, multiple business departments, and critical business processes. Translating business goals into a migration plan is time consuming, but advanced planning is key to a successful migration. The following steps present a framework for planning and executing your cloud vision.

Step One: Making the Business Case

A cloud journey is a business decision. A company should start by evaluating the business implications of adopting a cloud infrastructure.

Decision-makers must understand how the cloud differs from a traditional IT setup. They must be able to assess the benefits, risks, compliance, security, and data control implications on the organization as a whole and its IT activities in particular.

Determine what systems and apps should be first to migrate, and what are the costs and total cost of ownership (TCO) of the expected cloud deployment.

Related content: read our guide to cloud migration case studies

Step Two: Identify the Right Applications

Each application has its own unique design, which may or may not fit a cloud environment. If the application is suitable for the cloud, you can just “lift” and “shift” it to the cloud. Otherwise, you might need to make some changes.

The easiest migrations are often those that require no code modification—a lift and shift migration. In other cases, the application may only need a little tweaking before migrating to the cloud. Worst case scenario occurs when the entire application needs to be completely rewritten.

To ensure efficiency and cost-effectiveness, you should thoroughly assess your architecture, its complexity, and determine whether you can completely shift to the cloud or whether it makes more sense to move only several applications to the cloud while keeping the rest on-premises.

Related content: read our guide to cloud migration approaches

Step Three: Select a Cloud Service Provider

After you have analyzed and inventoried your environment, it is time to choose a cloud environment. There is a wide range of cloud service providers, each offering a distinct architecture that can with a unique set of capabilities, licensing, and support.

Here are several questions to ask when assessing a cloud provider:

  • Does the architecture of the cloud suit the design of your workloads? Since application modifications may lead to overhead, it might make more sense to choose a cloud environment that requires fewer code changes.
  • What kind of cloud implementation is supported by the provider? The majority of cloud vendors provide public and private cloud offerings. If you plan to implement a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud architecture, you should check if the vendor offers capabilities for complex cloud environments.
  • Can you bring your own existing licensing to the cloud? Licensing can be a complex and expensive procedure. Make sure that you can use your existing license and if not, determine (in advance) what licensing you need and what are the costs.
  • What type of support do you need before, during, and after the migration process? Some cloud providers offer tools but not much in terms of support, while other providers offer to help you migrate from beginning to end.

There are many more aspects to consider when migrating to the cloud—including security, compliance, and service level agreements (SLAs). However, the above questions should help you get started.

Related content: read our guide to AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud: Choosing the Best Cloud Provider for You

Step Four: Initial Adoption

Software as a service (SaaS) is usually the first and simplest solution adopted by companies migrating to the cloud. Applications include the less business-critical ones, such as customer relations management (CRM), office productivity (Office 365 and G-Suite), accounting, human resources, and collaborative tools like Slack, Asana, or Trello.

Business-critical solutions, such as warehousing, production, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) are typically tightly integrated with core business systems. This requires going deeper and adopting platform as a service (PaaS) solutions, which let you move an entire infrastructure to the cloud provider. This requires pilots and proofs of concept, and will often mean transitioning operations to a new, cloud-based solution, a strategy known as “repurchasing”.

At the early stages, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) can be used for non-critical applications, such as test and development environments, batch processing, and data archival.

As your organization adopts cloud solutions, you should in parallel develop a cloud governance strategy. Determine which business tasks are performed where, define access policies, and implement monitoring and security tools that span both on-premises and cloud environments.

Step Five: Full Migration

By now you should have all the information needed to migrate your workloads to the cloud. However, note that a huge part of the execution phase is testing. If you have not run a pilot yet, this is the time. This is especially important for mission-critical applications that cannot sustain a long period of downtime. Test your plan, and then start executing it. Create a backup and recovery strategy, and use it if or when issues occur.

Related content: read our guide to cloud migration tools

Step Six: Post-Migration

You have completed your migration, but not your journey. Now is the time to begin comparing pre- and post-migration performance. Monitor cloud performance in accordance with your provider’s service level agreements (SLAs) and your own performance goals. Be on the lookout for customer-facing issues that arise from the new cloud environment, detect unexpected changes and fine tune applications and infrastructure.

Cloud Migration Challenges

Here are some of the common challenges you will need to overcome in your cloud migration project, and how to address them:

  • Interoperability—existing applications may require adjustment, or even complete refactoring, to interact with a cloud environment. You need to consider whether to move an application’s dependencies, such as databases, to the cloud as-is, or transition to equivalent cloud-based services.
  • Availability—the migration process may require business systems to be temporarily offline. Migrations can also result in unplanned downtime. Develop a cloud-compatible disaster recovery plan, to avoid downtime that can impact business operations and customers.
  • Data security and integrity—cloud migrations can result in data loss or corruption, and may also open the door to attackers. Identify security and compliance issues that may arise during the migration process, and in your target cloud environment, and adapt your security strategy to the cloud.
  • Cloud expertise—traditional IT teams may not be familiar with cloud environments. Knowledge of on-premises data centers and management of physical servers does not translate directly to the public cloud. You can tackle these issues by training teams, providing sandboxes for experimentation, and recruiting or consulting with cloud experts.

Optimizing Your Cloud Journey with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports up to a capacity of 368TB, and supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more.

In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP assists with lift and shift cloud migration. NetApp’s data replication tools SnapMirror® and Cloud Sync service will get your data to the cloud.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager